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Pratyahara: The art of turning inward

Pratyahara:

The art of turning inward

Last week was the first time I had stepped on my yoga mat in months.  As you may know, this summer and autumn, I haven't been feeling well.  My body made it known that it would like to rest.  My muscles turned wild.  My throat became heavy and my hands became like static.  As a yoga teacher, my daily practice is something that used to keep me grounded.  It is sacred for me to move my body, to flow, to twist and turn upside-down.

When I formed my first downward dog of my practice last week, I nearly cried.  My teacher led me through postures, and my body was so thankful for each breath and movement.  I may have paused in child's pose more often than usual, but I made it through a full class.

It was pure bliss.

I admit that I had been hard on myself for not unrolling my mat in months, for staying still, for looking elsewhere for my spiritual practice.

But then I realized:  I had been practicing yoga all along.

Right now I am developing one of my upcoming Tarot Intensives: The Major Arcana and the Eight-Limbed Path.  You see, yoga isn't just asana, or the formation of postures with the body that you usually picture when you think of yoga studios.

There is so much more to yoga than movement on your mat.  There are seven other aspects, in fact.  I won't get into all of them here, but instead I will focus on one that has been calling out to me lately.  The word has been getting stuck in my head so much that I can't ignore it anymore:

Pratyahara.

Pratyahara is the art of turning inward.  It is Drawing Within, it is the Hermit.  In its fullest defintion, Pratyahara is a withdrawal of the senses.  In pure Pratyhara, one releases the acknowledgement of smell, taste, sight, sound, and touch.

Am I there, fully?  No.  But I'm practicing in small ways.  I'm releasing.  I'm focusing inward.  I'm aware of my breath, of what is going on inside of me.  I close my eyes and gaze at my third eye.  I open up my inner eye and see a world that my two other eyes cannot.  I travel within myself. 

I am in no way a master, instead, I am a student of this practice, a student of my own body.

Today I invite you to take some time to practice your own version of Pratyahara.  What can you learn from your inner world?  It's gorgeous there, I promise.

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